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August 22, 2007

Does Comcast Filter?

Is Comcast slowing down BitTorrent on it's network?  That seems to be the question on this CNET report.  Comcast denies any such action, saying only that they limit customers when they abuse bandwidth.  The comments at the end of the report seem to cast doubt on Comcast's story. 

Stories such as this, along with AT&T's censorship of Pearl Jam's criticism of President Bush on the webcast from Lollapalooza only hand ammunition to net neutrality advocates.  The FCC and the FTC say net neutrality regulations are unnecessary as they would step in to address any blatant attempts to suppress traffic.  The AT&T issue is settled somewhat by the outspoken criticism of the company who said it was a mistake and won't do it again.  The proof will be how they handle future webcasts.  These are out in the open.  The Comcast situation is harder to gauge because network speeds rely on a lot of different factors.  Suppression is easier to hide. 

AT&T for its part has publicly said that it was developing software that would identify copyrighted material flowing through its network and suppress it.  Aside from the obvious problem of determining when the use of copyrighted material is valid and when not, is this AT&T's job as a network owner?  Then again, this is the same company that gave access to all of its unfiltered Internet traffic to the U.S. government.  Let's hope that Google or another company like it upsets the apple cart and gets some of that spectrum.  It's not that Google would be better than AT&T, but that they would be an alternative to the AT&T mindset.

August 22, 2007 | Permalink


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